Severe flash flooding has been taking place in parts of the Southwest with flood waters overtaking expressways in Arizona and Nevada Monday morning. Forecasters say that more flash flooding is a real risk in the Southwest through early this week as warm moisture is being pulled northward from the the former Hurricane Norbert, triggering heavy rainfall. Heavy rain has been falling at a rate of up to 5 inches per hour in some areas of the Southwest, triggering flood emergencies. In Moapa, NV near Las Vegas, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency Monday as flood waters caused widespread devastation.
The NWS in Las Vegas reported that at one point a local dam was within just inches of over topping before the water receded. The freeway that links the Vegas area with San Diego to the south and Salt Lake City to the north was shut down due to severe damage caused by fast-moving flash floods.
Arizona governor Jan Brewer declared a statewide emergency for areas in her state impacted by the severe, record-breaking rainfall and flooding. At least two people lost their lives in that state when they got trapped by floodwater. By noon-time Tuesday, nearly 3 inches of rain had fallen in the Phoenix area, breaking the record of the largest amount of rain to come down in a single day. Flooding is threatening dozens of homes in the Mesa, AZ area after retention basins and channels have reached capacity, allowing water to freely flow into some neighborhoods.
As the Southwest is reeling from heavy rains and flooding, people living in the Great Plains and Midwest are being told to be on the lookout for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Those at greatest risk for severe thunderstorms Monday night heading into Tuesday are people living in Sioux Falls, ND, Omaha, NE and Kansas City, MO. The NWS said Monday night that that portion of the country could see severe weather that produces wind gusts in excess of 60 miles per hour, hail at least 1 inch in diameter and even tornadoes. The Service also warned people in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes regions that the severe weather would threaten them Wednesday as well.
Severe weather with drenching rain capable of producing flash flooding is being forecast to affect parts of the East Coast into Tuesday. While the worst of the rain will miss New York City, the severe weather will make conditions nasty in the Carolinas, southeastern Virginia and southern New Jersey. Southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina have already received rainfall amounts of up to 3 inches with another 2 to 3 is possible for Tuesday, raising concerns for devastating flooding. Forecasters are warning people living in those areas that creeks, highways and other low-lying areas could very well become flooded and to be ready to evacuate if told to do so.